We Put 7 of the Internet’s Most Popular Blackhead Products to the Test
Because we’re on an eternal quest for smaller pores.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that out of all the in-office beauty tests we’ve done, this blackhead one might be the most satisfying yet. Almost everyone involved experienced small pores (win), less blackheads (win win), and brighter, smoother skin (we think that’s called a hat trick). We all brought home and tried out a slew of products—from masks to strips to powders—that promise to rid your pores of all the dirt, oil, and bacteria that make up the funnest skin concern of all: blackhead-clogged pores. And after we all watched this NSF-anything, kind of disturbing video of a pore strip being peeled off super up close, we were all pretty glad we did. Read on to see what products each member of team Coveteur tried, and their experiences with each.
“I’ve become acutely aware of my pores since a derm recently told me they were, uh, large—despite twice-daily face-washing and obsessive skin-care application on my part. Cue me staring my reflection down in a magnifying mirror (bad, very bad idea), vowing to make a weekly commitment to cleaner pores. Boscia’s purifying strips are like the grown-up sister to the Bioré pore strips of childhood slumber parties past. They ‘attract pore-clogging dirt and oil’ and detox skin with a slew of good-for-you ingredients. So I started out with a bath and a clay mask to open my pores a bit and clean my face, then slapped on a strip to finish off an episode of This Is Us. The grossest, most satisfying part came fifteen minutes later, when I peeled it off to reveal what had been sitting in my pores (it was not pretty). At first glance the pores on my nose looked a lot smaller, and my skin is still buttery-smooth two days later. Meaning Boscia and I now have a standing date every Tuesday night.” —Alicia Cesaro
“I have a really gross confession to make: I can never leave my blackheads—or any blemish, for that matter—alone. I want it out, and I want it out now. But at the same time, I know how damaging constantly squeezing my skin can be for, well, my skin, so I’ve been trying my hardest to combat clogged pores with product and cleansing, rather than my fingernails.
“I chose to try out the Pig-Nose kit partly because the packaging was cute, but mostly because of its review on Amazon. Step 1 was very much like a cloth-y sheet mask, but cut into a butterfly-ish shape to fit perfectly on my nose. I had to leave it on for 10-15 minutes, I’m assuming to open the pores, but instructions were translated from Korean and so were very basic. The smell of the product was a bit strong for me, but wasn’t unpleasant. Step 2 was akin to an old-school Bioré strip: Wet your skin, place, leave on until it hardens, and gently remove to admire what was just pulled out of your pores. Total time: 10 minutes. The last and final step 3 was a gel-like serum-soaked mask that was cool and soothing. All in all, the entire process took about 30 minutes. While it worked (although a few stubborn blackheads remained), it required a little too much time commitment for me.” —Noah Lehava
“I’ve been in a lifelong fight with my blackheads. It seems as though I have learned how to tackle every single other skin-care issue that comes my way (and trust me, I have a lot), but blackheads—that’s a whole other story. One I’m still trying to find a happy ending for. Which is exactly how I ended up with a pot of Mario Badescu on my desk. I was a little skeptical at first—I mean, I just couldn’t wrap my head around how a fluffy powder was going to solve my blackhead woes—but at this point I was willing to try anything. That evening, after washing my face, I dampened a cotton ball, lightly pressed it into the powder, and dabbed it all over my nose. Fast-forward 10 minutes, and I was wiping it off using my regular go-to toner and a cotton pad. Although this product isn’t nearly as satisfying as ripping a blackhead strip from your nose and immediately seeing your blackheads all sitting there on the strip, I did notice quite a difference. When I wiped away the powder, a good chunk of my blackheads had been swiped away with it. The Silver Powder claims to unclog congested pores, and it did just that. I’ll admit, I was amazed, even more so at the fact that this little miracle-worker is only $12 a jar—and trust me, a jar will go a long way. I indebted myself to Mario Badescu Silver Powder that night, and I can promise I’m never turning back.” —Jodi Taylor
“It feels like it was just yesterday that I tried my first face mask, and that’s because it basically was. December marks the beginning of what I can foresee being a very long and very real obsession with all things skin care. In my short-lived time as a skin-care junkie, I have come to terms with what seems to be a universal truth: Blackheads are the meanest of skin-care issues. I pride myself on being a guinea pig—I’ll try just about anything once. So, naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to try out the Yes to Tomatoes 2-Step Nose Kit. Keeping with my Sunday night routine, I pressed Play on an episode of whatever show I am binge-watching (currently, Insecure) and set out on my latest skin-care endeavor. After dampening my nose area with warm water, I broke into the Step 1 items: a detoxifying charcoal cleanser and a wand to apply. I recommend opening the charcoal cleanser slowly, to avoid getting it all over your sink, like I did. Once open, I used the wand to spread the cleanser around my nose. I probably spent more time than needed on this step because the cleanser smelled incredible, but finally forced myself to rinse and prepare for Step 2 by leaving my nose area wet. I opened the Step 2 packet, peeled the protective layer off the charcoal strip, and placed the strip over my nose, making sure it was really snug. Ten minutes and a few unflattering selfies later, I slowly ripped the strip off my face, and there it was, instant gratification. I was satisfied to see what was once living in my pores relocated to the strip. For $3.99 per kit, I am saying Yes to Tomatoes at least once a week.” —Tatiana Bravo
“I’m not totally sure if I have blackheads or just large pores. Whatever they are, they’re annoyingly present—and seemingly impossible to disguise or minimize. Normally, I don’t believe that masking—other than a formula that’s deeply moisturizing—really works, but using this Dr. Brandt mask gave me the same kind of skin-tingling, immediate effectiveness that using Oxy Pads gave me when I was 13. Essentially, you apply the gel-like mask to clean skin in the places where you want to get shit out of your skin (blackheads) and shrink your pores. Leave it on for 10 minutes (no longer, or your skin will get red and irritated—as I discovered when I kept it on for a 30-minute conference call), and rinse it off thoroughly. Immediately after, my pores looked about half the size, and after using it every other day for a week, my skin actually looked smoother and slightly more poreless. The best part, though? Unlike other detoxifying masks, it doesn’t bring blemishes to the surface, so there’s no breakout side effects. Thank you, Dr. Brandt.” —Emily Ramshaw
“Like so many, I’ve been playing a frustrating game of tug-of-war with my skin for as long as I can remember. When it came time to decide on a New Year’s resolution, it seemed only natural to just let go and accept the fact that when it comes to my skin, there are certain battles I will never win—the one against my blackheads being (what I thought was) the most obvious. But, like most of my resolutions, this one also lasted about a week until I stumbled across the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask and simply couldn’t help myself. On a cold January evening filled with hope and despair, I washed my face with my usual cleanser, patted dry, and slathered on a thick enough layer of the black mask so that it was totally opaque. I then turned on an episode of The OA and let it dry completely (this is important). To my utter shock and disbelief, my adolescent commercial-fueled fantasy came true—not only did this “peel-off” mask actually peel off in, yes, *one* piece, I could see on it all of the dirt that was in my pores, which, though admittedly a bit disgusting, was unbelievably satisfying. My complexion was clearer and my pores tighter, plus, letting the mask dry for a bit longer than instructed didn’t irritate my sensitive skin. In the end, Boscia taught me a very valuable skin-care lesson: Never give up!” —Tori Meyerowitz
“When it comes to skin care, I want instant gratification. But more often than not after a treatment, I find myself staring into the mirror thinking to myself, ‘Did that do anything?’ Not with GlamGlow’s SuperMud Clearing Treatment. It slathers on like a typical mud mask, but as it dries, the magic begins as tiny, darker dots form over problem areas. For me, that’s the large pores on my nose, cheeks, and chin, plus any pimples that I’m dealing with. The best part for me is that I don’t have to wait until I rinse off the mask to see a difference in my complexion. Thanks to a healthy amount of charcoal, the formula immediately absorbs any oil and impurities—blackheads included—and maps them out on my face. When I do finally rinse the gray potion off, my skin is brighter, clearer, and my pores are tighter. Can’t ask for anything more!” —Dana Burke